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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Celtics beat Mavericks 106-99 to take 3-0 lead in NBA Finals

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The Boston Celtics, fueled by their star duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, held off a furious Dallas rally to beat the Mavericks 106-99 on Wednesday and take a 3-0 stranglehold on the NBA finals.

Tatum broke out of his scoring doldrums to score 31 points. Brown scored 15 of his 30 in a scorching third quarter and the Celtics held on to move within one victory of a record-setting 18th NBA crown.

Boston, who currently share the record of 17 titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, can close out the series in game four in Dallas on Friday.

The Mavericks go into that contest knowing full well that no team has rallied from 3-0 down to win an NBA playoff series.

With their backs against the wall, the Mavericks cut a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit to two points with 1:20 to play, Kyrie Irving finding Derrick Lively for a cutting dunk that pulled the Mavericks within 100-98.

By that point, Mavs star Luka Doncic could only watch in frustration. He fouled out with 4:12 remaining, earning his fifth and sixth fouls in less than a minute.

Mavericks coach Jason Kidd challenged both and lost, Doncic departing with the Mavs down by three after he was whistled for a blocking foul on Jrue Holiday.

Dallas kept pressing, but just didn’t have enough. Brown drilled a jump shot to push the lead back to four and after Irving missed a tough three-pointer White and Tatum each made a pair of free throws and the Celtics escaped.

“That was a big-time win for us, and I’m proud of how we played today, Brown said. “They had some momentum, but we kept our poise. We made timely baskets.

“We got some good shots going in, and we found a way to win.”

Irving shook off sub-par shooting performances in the first two games to lead the Mavericks with 35 points. Doncic finished with 27 points six rebounds and six assists before fouling out for just the third time in his career.

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